Drought Disaster

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Photo courtesy of hcn.org

Photo courtesy of hcn.org

Throughout Utah, a crisis is taking place, a drought that has the Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell at capacities at the lowest levels that have been seen in 50 years.

In the Great Salt Lake, it is figured that every foot the lake drops, 44,000 areas of mud flats are exposed. With these decreases more dust storms are possible around the lakeshore.

Low lake levels in the GSL create problems for the large amounts of sail boating that takes place. The larger boats now rely on cranes to get them into deeper water to sail. The deepest pocket went from 32 feet to 28 feet in just a few years. It has no outlet and the only inlets are the Bear River, Jordan River, and Weber River. Alone these rivers are not able to sustain the lake through the drought times with no rainfall.

Lake Powell’s capacity is only at 42% and down 117ft. It is the lowest that it has ever been and that could pose a problem with the two million people that choose to visit Lake Powell each year. The past 14 years have been drought years for the lake, and it has posed problems like shallow waters, making boat launches hazardous. The lake is currently warning park visitors to take precautions when using boat launch ramps because it is very shallow and leads to sudden drop-offs.

The low water has also revealed bad news in the form of an extensive infestation of quagga mussels, an invasive species that multiply quickly, compete with native species for food, and can clog water intake pipes. In February, National Park Service officials reported that dropping water levels had revealed more than 1,000 mussels attached to canyon walls and other underwater structures.

Although only these bodies of water have been talked about, it is very apparent with all the reservoirs and lakes in the local surrounding areas that a major drought is taking place and the water is very low.

Bransen Wayne Jackson hails from Kanab, Utah and is a man of the outdoors; hunting, fishing and sports are some of his favorite activities. Despite being known to his friends as the “sarcastic, obnoxious guy,” he is outgoing and easy to get along with. Originally taking the Media Writing course just to get elective credit, Bransen says that writing for the Snowdrift has increased his interest in the newspaper industry and writing in general.

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